The New World Translation and "Proskuneo" (worship)

The chart below is a list of every occurrence of the Greek word "proskuneo" that I could find in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (1969). This work was produced by the New World Translation Bible (NWT) committee in accordance with the Watchtower organization. An interlinear is a word-for-word translation of the Greek text. Included in this Watchtower interlinear is the text of the New World Translation Bible placed in a column on each page so the reader can see exactly how the NWT renders each occurrence of the verb "proskuneo."

The word "proskuneo" means "to kiss the hand, bow down before, show obeisance, to worship." Since the Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is God, they maintain that He is not to be worshipped. So, how does the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society translate the word "proskuneo" in their Greek New Testament in reference to Jesus and other objects of adoration? The NWT never translates the word into "worship" when it references Jesus. It does, however, render the word as "worship" regarding the devil, the dragon, the beast, the image, demons, idols, and an angel. Of course, they correctly translate it as "worship" when it deals with God.

Is the New World Translation biased against worshipping Jesus? It would surely seem so and especially since the NASB, NIV, KJV, NKJV, etc., all translate the word as "worship" in reference to Jesus.

What is curious is to note that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society used to teach that worshipping Jesus was acceptable:

"The fact that our Lord received worship is claimed by some to be an evidence that while on earth he was God the Father disguised in a body of flesh and not really a man. Was he really worshiped, or is the translation faulty? Yes we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so. While he was not the God, Jehovah, he was a God. The word ‘God’ signifies a ‘mighty one,’ and our Lord was indeed a mighty one. So it is stated in the first two verses of the gospel of John. It was proper for our Lord to receive worship in view of his having been the only begotten of the Father. . ." (The Watchtower, July 15, 1898, p. 216.)

It seems that as the Watchtower theology changed, they needed a Bible consistent with those changes, hence, the New World Translation. Following is a chart listing every appearance of the word "proskuneo" in the New World Translation. Let's see if the bias of the Watchtower organization is obvious.

The word "proskuneo" occurs 55 times in the Watchtower Kingdom Interlinear. Of those 55, 15 are in reference to Jesus with 40 used of others, 27% of the usage is of Jesus, and not a single reference is translated as "worship" even though in reference to the devil, demons, idols, etc., they do translate it as worship. If this doesn't demonstrate their bias, then what does?


Verse Jesus God Demons dragon,
Devil Generic Idols Peter Angel
Matt. 2:2 obeisance                
Matt. 2:8 obeisance                
Matt. 2:11 obeisance                
Matt. 4:9         worship        
Matt. 4:10   worship              
Matt. 8:2 obeisance                
Matt. 9:18 obeisance                
Matt. 14:33 obeisance                
Matt. 15:25 obeisance                
Matt. 18:26           obeisance      
Matt. 20:20 obeisance                
Matt. 28:9 obeisance                
Matt. 28:17 obeisance                
Mark 5:6 obeisance                
Mark 15:19 obeisance                
Luke 4:7         worship        
Luke 4:8   worship              
Luke 24:52 obeisance                
Verse Jesus God Demons dragon,
Devil Generic Idols Peter Angel
John 4:20   worship              
John 4:21   worship              
John 4:22   worship              
John 4:23   worship              
John 4:23   worship              
John 4:24   worship              
John 9:38 obeisance                
John 12:20           worship      
Acts 7:43             worship    
Acts 8:27           worship      
Acts 10:25               obeisance  
Acts 24:11           worship      
1 Cor. 14:25   worship              
Heb. 1:6 obeisance                
Heb. 11:21   worship              
Verse Jesus God Demons dragon,
Devil Generic Idols Peter Angel
Rev. 3:9           obeisance      
Rev. 4:10   worship              
Rev. 5:14   worship              
Rev. 7:11   worship              
Rev. 9:20     worship            
Rev. 11:1           worship      
Rev. 11:16   worship              
Rev. 13:4       worship          
Rev. 13:8       worship          
Rev. 13:12       worship          
Rev. 13:15       worship          
Rev. 14:7   worship              
Rev. 14:9       worship          
Rev. 14:11       worship          
Rev. 15:4   worship              
Rev. 16:2       worship          
Rev. 19:4   worship              
Rev. 19:10   worship              
Rev. 19:20       worship          
Rev. 20:4       worship          
Rev. 22:8                 worship
Rev. 22:9   worship              

As you can see, the NWT is very bias in how it translates the word "proskuneo." Whenever it is in reference to Jesus, they absolutely will not let it be translated as worship. Why? Because they erringly deny that Jesus is God in flesh and their Bible reflects their bias. This is not how proper theology is done.

The Watchtower Organization has changed the Bible to suit its needs.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.